A review of Nothing: A Very Short Introduction by Frank Close. A review of The Lightness of Being: Big Questions, Real Answers by Frank Wilczek. A review of Why Does E=mc2?: And Why Should We Care? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. An excerpt from Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar. A groundbreaking Caltech experiment may detect quantum physics where classical mechanics has ruled sovereign. From Plus, it may seem as if reality has become a whole lot bigger over the last few years — in one branch of theoretical physics, though, things seem to be going the other way; and an article on the biggest problem in theoretical physics (and five more great problems). The physics that we know: An interview with Gavin Schmidt. The laws of the universe are based on fixed constants — what happens to science when those number start to change? (and more) Look at the periodic table of elements, and you'd be hard pressed to find an element that is not used in physics. In the next few weeks, a new name will appear in the periodic table when the element with atomic number 112 receives a new name (and more). A review of Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World by Eugenie Samuel Reich.

Lawrence Weaver (Glasgow): Feeding babies in the 21st century: Breast is still best, but for new reasons. Could there be any more desperate group of consumers than new moms? A review of When Mothers Kill: Interviews from Prison by Michelle Oberman and Cheryl L. Meyer. A review of The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family by Jeremy Adam Smith. (Traditional) Fathers Don’t Always Know Best: The notion that kids can’t develop properly without a biological father was a lie when Dan Quayle asserted it in 1992, and it’s a lie when Barack Obama says it now. The Sacrifice of Isaac ('s Foreskin): An excerpt from Sam Apple's American Parent: My Strange and Surprising Modern Adventures in Babyland. The battle over a baby: Why can a lesbian couple be foster parents to older kids but have to fight to adopt a newborn? A review of Babysitter: An American History by Miriam Forman-Brunell (and more). Research finds young men living at home with parents are more violent. From Foreign Policy, a look at the world’s worst sons: The troublesome progeny giving headaches to some of the most powerful leaders on the planet. The overextended family: Is Skype bringing us together or destroying boundaries?

From TED, Alain de Botton on a kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Meet John Durham, the man who may be put in charge of investigating the Bush administration's torture crimes. The introduction to The Apologetics of Evil: The Case of Iago by Richard Raatzsch. From The Hill, here's the latest 50 Most Beautiful People. From Mother Jones, let the End Times roll: When the economic Rapture comes, will collapsitarians be the chosen ones? From Wired, an essay on cutthroat capitalism: An economic analysis of the Somali pirate business model. Is cheaper health care hopeless? No — and here's an honest, detailed answer why. A review of Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis by Senator Tom Daschle. Bruce Bartlett on taxing the rich and figuring out ways to finance health care reform (and an interview). Jonathan Chait on basic health care facts: They're important. Health-Care Haters 101: Why the right is dead-wrong. Blue-dogged centrist Democrats think that going slow on health care is good politics — but if Obama loses, they lose, too. John Dean on how Barack Obama is a "fox," not a "hedgehog" and thus more likely to get it right. Three major continental thinkers died in the last year; their life stories are extraordinary (and more and more and more on Leszek Kolakowski).

From Policy, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty isn’t always convincing, but after 150 years it is still worth reading (and more). From The Philosophers' Magazine, Jonathan Riley celebrates 150 years of J.S. Mill’s classic essay On Liberty with an overview of its central arguments; Jo Ellen Jacobs argues that Harriet Taylor was the co-author of On Liberty; Richard Reeves on J.S. Mill’s rejection of the quiet; and John Skorupski on the relationship between the freedoms of thought and speech. An interview with Nigel Warburton, author of Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. By adopting the language of human rights, a new UN proposal condemning "defamation of religion" cements oppressive governments' control of free speech. A review of Philosophy and Real Politics by Raymond Geuss. A review of Messy Morality: The Challenge of Politics by CAJ Coady. A review of Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists by Susan Neiman (and more and more and more and more). An excerpt from The Death of "Why?": The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy by Andrea Batista Schlesinger. Newly research shows the meaning of liberty and freedom depends on whether a culture values the group or the individual. Beyond Independence: Robeft Jensen on how we are most free when we are most bound to others.

From The Atlantic, the summer fiction issue is out, including an essay on how literary awards are inherently subjective, but they are also the most powerful antidote we have to the decline of serious fiction; in fiction, details matter — but only imagination can illuminate the human soul; and does a national literature still have meaning in an age of open borders and polyglot cultures? Margaret Atwood, Joseph O’Neill, Monica Ali, and Anne Michaels consider the question. A review of On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction by Brian Boyd. From Bookforum, Craig Seligman on first novels: "There's also the pleasure — one part malice, nine parts love — of seeing our gorgeous friends in their gawky adolescence"; and Morris Dickstein on political fiction: "Today’s headlines make a poor backdrop for tomorrow’s fiction". Please, dear novelists, get real: How many great novels are going unwritten today, because novelists are not being urged to make journeys into reality? Dangerous dykes: Have lesbian writers cracked the male-dominated crime fiction genre? Here are surprising facts about 15 best-selling authors. An interview with John O'Brien, publisher of Dalkey Archive Press, on what's new and exciting in literature after almost 30 years (and part 2).

From The Moscow Times, an article on the paradox of an educated Russian. Why is Russia convinced that it is the victim of a campaign to make it look bad? While the West weighs how best to mobilise against climate change, Russia looks forward to an age of defrosted prosperity. Novaya Gazeta in the newspaper loved in the West, hated at home. The painful post-Soviet history of Russia's smallest republic: Can Ingushetia hold on to its independence now and what is the Kremlin's policy in the Caucasus going to be? Attempts to compensate for Belarusian lack of national pride by turning the country into a fortress and uniting nationality and religion are "insane". What went wrong with Latvia? From Eurozine, over the last thousand years, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have had multiple identities and been members of several empires; and while the Nordic countries cannot compare with France, the Netherlands, or Great Britain when it comes to classical colonialism, this is no reason not to discuss their colonial past. Can Iceland be saved? The plan to get an entire country out of debtors’ prison (and more and more and more). Olle Wastberg on the symbiosis of Sweden and IKEA: "Frankly, IKEA is doing more for the image of Sweden than all governmental efforts combined".

A review of Christopher Lloyd’s What on Earth Happened? The Complete Story of the Planet, Life, and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day. Out of our minds: How did humans come down from the trees and why did no one follow? Party Animals: A look at how early human culture thrived in crowds. A review of Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World by Hank Davis. More on Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending's The 10,000 Year Explosion. Always cited as the hallmark of man’s innovation, here is the real story behind the wheel — from its origins to its reinvention. A review of An Intellectual History of Cannibalism by Catalin Avramescu. A review of Sharon Waxman's Loot: The Battle Over Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World. From TLS, a Nabokov of the ancient world: A review of Ananios of Kleitor by George Economou. The introduction to Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism by Cathy Gere (and a review by Mary Beard). An interview with Owen Hatherley, author of Militant Modernism (and at Bookforum, Matthew Price reviews Peter Gay’s Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond). Mortality and the contradictions of modernity: A review of Genevieve Lloyd's Providence Lost.

From New York, did leveraging his connections to sell access to New York's pension funds make political consultant Hank Morris a felon? From FT, an in depth report on the pensions crisis. Growing old: Is retirement at age 62 still possible? Unless we change our attitudes towards work, education and retirement, we run the risk of pensioner poverty and intergenerational conflict. From The Economist, a special report on aging populations: Demography means virtually all of us will have to work longer — that need not be a bad thing. It is a screwed-up society which sees older generations as little more than a future nutritional resource for worms. Why Japan isn't rising: It's mellowing as its population ages. Our ageing world isn't a catastrophe — it's a triumph. Is aging a moral good? (and a response and a reply). In a world without miracles, death is a miracle — a bad one, it makes no sense at all. A review of Death and Character by Annette Baier. A a review of Well-being and Death by Ben Bradley. A look at how posthumous events affect rated quality and happiness of lives. A review of Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the Notorious by Alix Strauss. There's pleasure to be had in reading "The Possible Pain Experienced During Execution by Different Methods".

A review of The United Symbolism of America: Deciphering Hidden Meanings in America's Most Familiar Art, Architecture, and Logos by Robert Hieronimus and Laura Cortner. Is Apple the world's most discreetly feminine brand? Nowhere is the cynicism of modern female-directed advertising better seen than in the peddling of "natural" makeup. An article on the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the people who keep advertisers honest. The internet advertising industry is worried the government will clamp down their tracking of web users. Pop Nihilism: Mass media's codependent relationship with advertising has destined both to failure. An interview with Carrie McLaren and Jason Torchinsky on Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. A review of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell (and more and more and more and more). A review of All Consuming: How Shopping Got Us Into This Mess And How We Can Find Our Way Out by Neal Lawson (and more and more). A review of Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America by Lawrence Glickman. Shop right: The best ways to support worthy causes by buying cool products. It's still possible to find parts of the world where people think they have enough.

From H-Net, a review of Global Environmental History by I. G. Simmons. From The Trumpeter, an essay on the environment and the old sciences. Was it a cultural thing, that is, in the 1960s environmentalism came to be associated with hippies and peaceniks? An interview with Lester Brown on his plan to stop climate change. Conor Clarke interviews Thomas Schelling on global warming (and part 2). From New Matilda, faced with the threat of climate change, The Australian is recruiting Trots to fight greenies in its opinion pages; and they're happy to talk light bulbs, bikes and renewable energy, but when it comes to population control, the anti-climate change crusaders fall silent. An article on why people don't act on climate change. Buying the environment to save capitalism: An article on the domination of neoliberal ideology within the environmental movement. After abandoning the mainstream environmental policy agenda, what options would remain in pursuit of environmental justice and protection? From National Geographic, some scientists say we need a Plan B: a giant sunshade that would cool the whole planet. A review of The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive? by Peter Ward. Here's a top 10 checklist: How societies can avoid "ecocide".